The standard formula for a movie comedy these days seems to involve thirty-something men who haven’t yet grown up. There is nothing particularly original about Role Models but it manages to be one of the funnier examples of the genre, with a satisfying balance of off-color humor and sentimentality.
At least in this case the heroes have jobs and don’t live with their parents. Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) work for a soft drink company, traveling from school to school lecturing the kids about drugs. “Remember, if somebody offers you drugs, just say ‘No thanks, I’m having a Minotaur!’”. (Minotaur is a powerful energy drink. It’s made from caffeine and ginseng, and it can turn your urine bright green.)
Wheeler is perfectly content with this life, but Danny is fed up. He’s disillusioned, depressed and angry, and he’s drunk enough Minotaur to anesthetize a bull. He ends up assaulting a cop and driving the Minotaurmobile into a statue.
In Movieland judges are always eager to make lawbreaking losers work with troubled children, so Danny and Wheeler are sentenced to do 150 hours of community service at a Big Brother-like program. (Jane Lynch is particularly hilarious as the program’s street-wise but slightly addled organizer.) When they are assigned to a foul-mouthed violent little kid and an ultra-nerdy LARPing teenager they wonder whether it might be better to go to jail.
This is all very formulaic, but if you are good enough you can turn an old formula into something that is clever and fun. This movie manages to do it.